On 14 June 2001, the government of the Russian Federation finally adopted its revised chemical weapons destruction programme. Accordingly, the destruction of the Russian chemical weapons stockpile, which has already commenced on a limited scale, would be completed by 2012.
The revised programme of destruction also foresees the reduction of the number of chemical weapons destruction facilities from 7 to 6. Two of the six facilities would have full-scale destruction capability. The new programme envisages the destruction of 1% of its chemical weapons stockpile by 2003; to destroy 20% by the year 2007; and destroy 45% of the total stockpile by 2008. This revised programme of destruction also anticipates the full conversion of the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons production facilities for peaceful purposes by 2007.
OPCW Director-General, José M Bustani, welcomed the decision of the government of the Russian Federation to detail its plans for destruction, as he urged at the recently concluded Conference of the States Parties. Bustani then noted, “At this critical juncture, it is essential that the Russian Federation provide the OPCW and its Member States with a programme of destruction which can serve as the credible foundation for enhanced transparency, as well as for the international funding necessary to carry out this enormous task.”
Bustani stressed that the revised programme of destruction, as approved by the government of the Russian Federation, “should be presented officially to the Organisation as soon as possible. And it is my understanding that this will occur very soon. The Organisation cannot comment on the new proposals before the programme of destruction is provided to it in detail. It would be premature at this point to assess the content of the new proposal before we have had an opportunity to study it in detail. However, it is clear that the programme exceeds by five years the ten-year timeline established by the CWC, and that this extension has to be approved by the Member States of the OPCW.”
The United States and a number of EU donors have offered support for the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons destruction activities. Bustani elaborated, “The international community recognises the need to invest in security by providing the assistance its fellow Member States require to eliminate this heinous weapon of mass destruction. The Russian Federation, in particular, must shoulder a great burden. By demonstrating its commitment to fulfil the obligations set out by the CWC as a Member State, the Russian Federation can help itself and should be able to expect help.”
Bustani further asserted, “The recent flag-raising at the proposed site of the Russian Federation’s largest chemical weapons destruction facility in Schuch’ye demonstrated the willingness of international donors to fund a clearly defined and predictable programme of destruction. The Russian Federation’s resolve to destroy its stockpile will be underscored by a sound programme of destruction.”